According to Wikipedia, the Big Bang Theory refers to the idea that the universe was originally extremely hot and dense at some finite time in the past and has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state and continues to expand today. The same theory can be used to explain the Phillies 2010 season thus far. They got off to a very hot start in April, cooled off from May to most of July and are now “expanding.” Although, “exploding” may be a more accurate term.
At first, having to face the best pitcher in the National League today did not seem like good news for the struggling Phillies offense. But after scoring 6 runs yesterday, maybe they got some of their Mojo back. Because they absolutely destroyed the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez entered the game with a record of 15-1 and a miniscule 2.38 ERA. But he left the game after only 2 innings and 6 runs allowed on 3 hits and 6 walks. All 6 runs scored in the top of the 3rd inning without Jimenez even recording an out.
It was starting to look like the “diluted” state of the Phils offense was about to pass. The Rockies bullpen gave up one more run, but finally, after 30 minutes, got out of the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Jimmy Rollins, very comfy back in his leadoff spot, kicked off the 3rd inning with a single to left. The next two batters walked as Jimenez started to look rattled. Then Ryan Howard smacked a triple down the 1st base line. The walks kept coming and Rollins hit a triple to score two more runs in his second at-bat of the inning. The Rockies must have wondered if that inning was ever going to end.
While the inning did have to end eventually, the Phillies kept trying to add on and give pitcher Kyle Kendrick a huge cushion. Kendrick had extra motivation to pitch well today. In his last outing, Kendrick allowed 7 runs and was then demoted to the minors. You had to expect a solid effort today as the injury to Jamie Moyer forced the Phillies to give Kendrick one more shot.
Kendrick took advantage of the unexpected opportunity and pitched very well. By the 7th inning, Kendrick had an 8 run lead to work with and he had allowed only 1 run at that point. He loaded the bases in the 7th with 2 outs, but managed to get out of it with a fly ball to center. So Kendrick went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on a solo homer. This result was more than anyone could have hoped for from Kendrick.
There were a number of positives to come out of this game, aside from the obvious…a win. Rollins looks like the player of old again with 3 big hits, a stolen base and 3 RBI. Raul Ibanez is still loving the 3-hole in the line-up; he had his own big bang with 2-run homer in the 6th. Jayson Werth had 2 hits and Howard racked up 3 more RBI. Placido Polanco played 2nd base today and Greg Dobbs was at third, which turned out to be a good move. Polanco had 2 hits and Dobbs added a hit, an RBI and a walk and played well at 3rd. Even Ben Francisco got a pinch-hit double.
So is this the big bang the Phillies have been waiting for to kick start their offense? A 10-2 win preceded by a 6-0 win should serve as a very good sign. The players that have not been hitting are coming back to life. It is a welcome sight for sure.
Another note of interest, rookie Vance Worley made his major league debut today, pitching the 9th inning for the Phillies. The 22-year old righty starter was 9-4 with a 3.20 ERA in AA ball for the R-Phils; he had pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games before being called up to the Phils to work in the bullpen. Worley was a 3rd round draft pick in 2008 and has made considerable strides since pitching at a 5.34 ERA last year.
In today’s 9th inning, Worley’s fast ball topped out at 95 mph with a 76 mph curve ball and an 83-84mph slider. He looked solid, changed speeds well and the end result was 2 strikeouts and a fly ball out to center. Great job by the rookie!
So, if JA Happ can give the Phillies a solid start tomorrow, they have a shot at winning 4 in a row which has not happened since before the All-Star break. I will be at the game and shall return with photos. See you there!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography